Monday, August 21, 2006

Let's dance

When I was a little girl, my mother decided I should be a dancer. She drove me over to the local dance school and signed me up for ballet and tap classes, convinced that I was going to be a star. I should mention that around this time, "White Nights" was her favorite movie. She had the teensiest crush on Mikhail Baryshnikov, hence, her newfound passion for ballet.

Like most little girls, I'd entertained thoughts of being a ballerina. The leotards, the tutus, those cute little shoes with the ribbons. I remember being disappointed when my mother took me shopping for my ballet shoes. I wanted the pointed ones that laced up my legs like the real dancers wore. I hated the soft-soled pink slip-ons she bought and I never did get to wear a tutu.

Every Tuesday night, I'd take my position at the bar with the other little girls and we'd practice the five basic positions. When I think back on it, this was really all we ever did. After a while, we'd all get bored and run around, practicing our own version of ballet, which usually meant us hopping around with our arms in the air. The teachers never tried to stop us. Apparently, the study of ballet doesn't teach one how to deal with a room full of unruly five-year-olds.

After a half an hour or so of that, we'd head down the hall for tap class. (What can I say, she really liked Gregory Hines in that movie too.) I wasn't much better at tap than I was at ballet but there was one thing that made it bearable: the shoes. I loved my tap shoes, black patent leather so shiny I could see myself in them. And I loved the sound they made, that clack-clacking against the hardwood floors. I used to wear them home and walk all over the house in them, driving my mother crazy.

Eventually, I lost interest and stopped going. It turns out I wasn't meant to be a ballerina after all, nor was I going to be tap-tapping my way onto Broadway anytime soon. It wasn't until I got older that I realized that I possess no natural rhythm whatsoever. I was in college before I realized that I look like this when I dance. Sadly, my friends were apparently too embarrassed or bitchy to tell me.

Despite the fact that I move like a spastic chicken, I still love to dance, although I usually only do it when I'm home. Alone. With the blinds drawn. There's something so completely freeing in just letting your body move however it will. There are certain songs, that when I hear them, I have to move, no matter how silly I look. Dancing in itself is a particular kind of joy and it's not one I ever intend to give up. I plan to still be shaking it when I'm 80, artifical hip be damned.

So tell me, what makes you want to get up and dance?


Blogger Valannin said...

Besides being forced at gunpoint, the only thing that would make me get up and dance is a smokey-eyed woman in an ivory dress whose only burning desire at that moment was to dance with me, even if the rest of the world was falling down around us.

I really have to stop writing things at three-thirty in the morning...

8/21/2006 2:33 AM  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Really really good news makes me dance around the kitchen shouting Yes Yes Yes Yes - it's really quite thrilling stuff!!;)

8/21/2006 6:44 AM  
Blogger January said...

I miss going out dancing. My husband and I don't get to do it as much now that we have two kids. And I love, love, love 80s music.

Whenever I hear Rob Base's "It Takes Two," watch out!

8/21/2006 7:53 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Usually it takes a lot of booze. Because, like you, I have no talent for it. After a few drinks the rest of the room can kiss my lilly white ass.

8/21/2006 8:25 AM  
Blogger willowtree said...

I don't dance. (I wish I did though)
But, I like you took ballet when I was a little girl, I seem to remember wanting to take that class. (to be girly you see)
Anyway, one of the three genres of music that can at least make me- move my neck :) is Hindi music.

8/21/2006 10:09 AM  
Blogger Lex Ham Rand said...

Freshly delivered pizza! Makes me do the pizza dance!!!

Also, rump-shaking tunes like "Girlfriend" by Matthew Sweet, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet, or "Hard to Handle" as covered by the Black Crowes.

I shake it, and everyone else runs away!

8/21/2006 10:20 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Valannin, 3:30 in the morning is a fine time to write. I like the scene you've set.

Chiefbiscuit, congratulations again. I know you must be dancing right now. Everyone go over to Chiefbiscuit's blog to find out about her good news.

January, sadly, I've never had a boyfriend who would dance with me. Is it as fun as it looks in the movies?

Scott, booze is a dancer's best friend. The drunk dance is the most fun of all.

Willowtree, yes, the girly thing. It didn't really work for me either. I've never listened to Hindi music, is it good?

Rand, And why would they run away? When I dance, it's like a train wreck, you can't help but stare. It's like watching someone have a seizure in slow motion, you want to stop it but you don't know how.

8/21/2006 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Nic said...

This is such a great post! Dancing is IT. In my youth I danced until 4am on bars in Colombia, then got old and now I only do it when the boys are asleep and it's really late and no-one can see me. Wrong! A lot more makes me want to get up and dance than makes me actually get up and dance. Sob.

8/21/2006 11:25 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Nic, welcome. We should all be dancing more, I think. Whether it's on the bar or in front of the couch, we should all be dancing.

8/21/2006 11:30 AM  
Blogger Flood said...

I happen to be an excellent dancer and know the key to belly dancing is in the knees. (Trade secret, don't tell anyone)

One of the best compliments I ever received was when a Lebanese man told me I moved like an Egyptian. It's a cultural thing, but trust me, it was great to hear.

Today what's making me dance, though, is the Emperor's New Clothes, by S. O'C.

8/21/2006 11:49 AM  
Blogger Gerald Huml said...

Rebecca, I don't dance. I head bang.

8/21/2006 12:24 PM  
Blogger Quinn said...

James Brown. New Order. A good mood. if the good mood hits, I'll dance to anything that's got a happy beat - and as long as I'm alone. Althought I've been known to dance in front of close, close friends and family. Just to startle them.

8/21/2006 1:01 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Flood, I never knew you were so exotic. Do you give lessons?

Gerald, are you one of those mosh pit, slam dance kind of guys or just a regular old headbanger? Be careful, I hurt my neck doing that once.

Quinn, James Brown seems an appropriate choice for you. I knew you had a little soul in you somewhere.

8/21/2006 2:34 PM  
Blogger Gerald Huml said...

A regular old headbanger. Those mosh pit guys piss me off! I stick my elbows out if they get to close to me.

8/21/2006 4:15 PM  
Blogger twitches said...

Yes, I was forced to take ballet, tap, jazz all that stuff when I was a kid, too. I finally got my mother to let me quit when she realized all the other girls really were, in fact, laughing at me. (Good-naturedly, though, I never took it personally. I knew I sucked.)

8/21/2006 5:13 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"So tell me, what makes you want to get up and dance?"

Something about being doused with kerosene and touched by a lighted match sure does it for me.

8/21/2006 5:48 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Gerald, glad you know how to throw the 'bows.

Twitches, it's okay, I sucked too. I still suck in fact but I try not to dwell on it.

Mr. Schprock, I think that would do it for me too. What would a dance like that look like exactly?

8/21/2006 9:00 PM  
Blogger Quinn said...

I got soul.

and I'm super bad.

8/21/2006 10:10 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Is that super bad or super fly? Either way, you've definitely got soul.

8/21/2006 10:12 PM  

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